Each movement of this piece encompasses a different character, mood, or style. The Humoresque is child- like and playful. As the music gains intensity it begins to become almost too serious and then promptly retreats back into a light-hearted, playful mood. After all, it’s only a Humoresque, nothing more.
The Elegy is more abstruse and much more serious. The feeling of loss, numbness, and solitude pervade until cries of anger and rage erupt. But quickly those cries die down into quiet sobs and perhaps even into peaceful acceptance. The lone clarinet note at the end leaves a musical question mark, asking what kind of a conclusion to which we have arrived.
The finale, Le Cirque, quickly departs from the seriousness of the second movement and into a hysterical, almost out of control circus scene. This wild abandon is a shock after having such serious questions proposed in the Elegy. The contrast of each of the movements is intentionally stark, allowing the listener into three different worlds in a short period of time.
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